This week, Seth Rogen made a funny, charming and impassioned appeal to members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services for research funding for Alzheimer’s disease. At the very least, he also asked for a sign of hope that the government will do more to bring attention to this disease.
He didn’t get that sign.
Rather, he spoke to a room mostly empty of Senate members with only two — Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) — sticking around to listen. (There are 18 members on the committee.) Keep in mind: this was testimony for a subcommittee that is supposed to handle just these sorts of issues.
Congress already has a reputation as a government body that does absolutely nothing, so this doesn’t help.
Rogen is a very popular actor. There’s no doubt that his testimony would get media coverage beyond C-Span and the outlets that would normally cover this issue. For example, the clip below was lifted from Jezebel. And he appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews where he talked about his testimony and blasted the absent subcommittee members for leaving and for falling asleep while they were there.
It begs the question of why these Senators are members of a group that doesn’t have their full attention. Or, even more cynically, why they wouldn’t give their attention when this would get out to more people than perhaps is usual because of the star power in the room. According to Rogen’s testimony, death from Alzheimer’s has increased by 70 percent over the past 15 years. Over five million have it; 16 million could have it in the next 35 years.
There’s “no way to prevent, cure, or even slow the progression of the disease,” he said at one point. The “shame and stigma of the disease” are still alive and well. And on a more tangible level, there’s the economic toll this disease takes.
“I’ve personally seen the massive amount of financial strain this disease causes,” he said. “And if the American people ever decide to reject genitalia-driven comedy, I will no longer be able to afford it… Therefore, I can’t begin to imagine how people with more limited incomes are dealing with this.”
As Rogen made his remarks, the camera panned the room.
Shameful. Rogen continued to criticize the Senators on Twitter and retweeted stories that called them out. It may not be the most pressing issue of the day, but this blatant disregard is a failure to do what these Senators were elected to do.
FYI: Rogen’s organization is called Hilarity for Charity, a fund he started with his wife and the Alzheimer’s Association to support those coping with the condition and to raise awareness among young people.
Separately, but on another PR note, Inc lays out a few things that anyone who is called upon for public speaking duty can learn from Rogen’s testimony. At the very least, we learned a little more about this debilitating disease.